Suicide bombers from the various Palestinian factions caused several massacres this Passover. After the first Passover massacre on the night of the Seder - for which the Hamas faction took responsibility - the Washington Post (March 28th) cited the following comment of a senior Hamas official, named Ismail, who explained why he believes that the Jews will be defeated:
"Anyone reading an Israeli newspaper can see their suffering," said Ismail, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza strip. Jews, he said, "love life more than any other people, and they prefer not to die."
Yes, Jews love life with a passion, and when we give a toast, we say "l'chayim" - to life! What Ismail feels is our weakness, however, is actually our strength. Ismail feels that our love of life will lead to cowardice in the face of death. Ismail does not realize however, that our love of life has given us the courage and faith to defy death. Whenever death was inflicted upon us in our history - from the oppression of Egypt to the Holocaust - our nation was reborn. For we keep choosing life, over and over again. Death does not defeat us, as our souls are bound to the Living One Who proclaimed to our people: "Choose Life!" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
In this spirit, there is no mourning on the Jewish Festivals, for on these sacred and joyous days we celebrate the redemption of the Living One Who gave us the gift of eternal life. The Jewish nation therefore chants on each day of Passover:
"I shall not die! But I shall live and relate the deeds of G-d." (Psalm 118:17)
On the night of the Passover Seder, Ismail assumed the role of the "malach ha-maves" - the angel of death. This "malach ha-maves" rejoiced in the brutal destruction of life; however this rejoicing will not last, for at the end of the Seder, Jews sing:
"Then came the Holy One, Blessed be He, and slaughtered the malach ha-maves."
We passionately love life, for we know that the Holy One is the Living One - the Source of all life. Despite our pain and suffering, we know that the G-d of life will defeat death, as it is written: "He will eliminate death forever, and my L-rd G-d will erase tears from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8).
May we be blessed with a Festival of Life.
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen